'Bholaa' raises Rs 44.28 crore in opening weekend
Movie poster of Bholaa
  • Release Date: – 30/03/2023
  • Cast: – Ajay Devgn, Tabu Deepak Dobriyal, Vineet Kumar
  • Director: –Ajay Devgn

Kaithi was a phenomenal film not because of how well the action was choreographed or how astounding the performances were. It was so because of the grounded approach to the storytelling, the sheer heart that was there in the narrative and performances and for the fact that every aspect of the film, no matter how over-the-top, felt real and something that could easily happen. 

Bholaa is a lot more polished, imaginative and bombastic but in being all that it misses out on the humanity, flaw, genuine emotions, tension, physicality and punch that it so desperately needed. Ajay Devgn takes a beloved story and film and tries to add his own style, sensibility and a dash of high-octane action but in doing so misses out on the key elements that made the original strike a chord with the masses. If I hadn’t seen the original, probably, I would have enjoyed it a little more but with the greatness and magic of the original still looming on my memory and psyche, Bholaa failed to impress me.

For the ones who haven’t seen the original, Bholaa chronicles the journey of a convict on life sentence who is let out of prison for good behaviour and learns that he has a daughter. As he is making his way to meet his daughter for the first time, he gets entangled with a police officer, Diana (Tabu) who is trying to save her colleagues from a vicious poisoning by a gang of dreaded drug mafia. She is also trying to protect the haul of 1 ton of cocaine that she has just confiscated from the same gang. As Bholaa gets more and more entangled in the cat-and-mouse game, we gradually learn of his brutal past and how he has the ability to be that one man standing between Diana, the police force and their complete annihilation by the drug mafia.

Kaithi is available on YouTube and other OTT platforms for your viewing pleasure and has been seen by most Indian movie buffs. Hence the comparisons between the two films are inescapable. Sadly, when you compare Bholaa with Kaithi it comes up short in every sphere.

The action of Bholaa was touted as one of the most imaginative and largely mounted pieces of action to have ever graced the Indian silver screen. Sadly, for me, the action was easily the weakest link in this film in comparison to Kaithi. The action of Kaithi was grounded, brutal, physical and paid as much respect as possible to physics. In places where it didn’t, it ensured that the suspension of disbelief was possible.

The action in Bholaa is choreographed at a much larger scale and has imaginative chase sequences and highly stylized hand-to-hand combat sequences but they are executed with so little respect to physics and gritty realism that at no juncture I was able to take any of these action sequences seriously.

The much-talked-about bike chase sequence that looked cool in the trailer feels fake and orchestrated in its cinematic rendition. While it may look cool and interesting at first look, it doesn’t have the dash of physicality to make the kind of impact that was necessary to make the sequences feel real and on your face.

The hand-to-hand combat of Bholaa also fails miserably as there is so much flying and jumping around. The action sequences with the trident needed to be a lot more physical and should have had a lot more gusto associated with them. The impact and the thrust of the blows feel cartoonish and I could never take any of it seriously.

The trademark M-134-gun sequence that resulted in one of the most crowd-pleasing moments of the original comes and goes here without making any splash. Even for the ones who are watching this film for the time, the film’s action will not leave much of an impact.

The cinematography and editing of the film are consistently good. I had some issues with the editing of the action sequences but that was understandable. Ajay Devgn isn’t in a physical state that would allow him to do his actions seqeucnes in a way that could be captured in a manner that gives the viewer the full view of the action.

His deficiencies have to be camouflaged using mid-range and close-up shots of the action and also hyper-edited with a lot of shaky cams to create a sense of speed and physicality. While these elements mar the fun of the action sequences on multiple junctures, I didn’t have much of a problem with it as I understand the cause behind it. One thing that I noticed about the cinematography was the innovative camera angles that were used. There were moments when I felt inspired by the camera positioning and how one edit led into another. This aspect of the filmmaking did nullify (to a certain extent) the negative impact of the fast editing and the unnecessarily shaky cam.

The next noticeable aspect of both films was the performances. While Kaithi boasted of hyper-realistic performances, Bholaa takes a different route. The performances here are elevated to suit the over-the-top mood and style of the narrative. Ajay Devgn leads from the front and maintains the same facial expressions throughout.

However, when it comes to him communicating with his daughter or even talking about his relationship with her, his expression changes. These moments show us the acting prowess of Ajay Devgn and we wonder why he couldn’t bring a little more gusto and range when he was essaying the other portions of his character in the film. He makes his way through the action and the rest of the drama with such a monotonous expression that it becomes difficult to take his predicament and dire circumstances seriously. This also leads to the believability of the film going for a toss.

I never thought that I would say this for Tabu but she is lacklustre here. Her performances needed a lot more urgency, tension and expression of panic to make sense. She is someone who is stuck between a constant surge of attacks and incoming news from a police station that is under siege and is about to be annihilated leading to loss of innocent lives. Strangely, she maintains a straight face and calm demeanour. She shows no signs of panic or tension and this comes not only as a surprise but also as something that seriously hampers the realism of the moment.

In the original, the actor playing the same character was constantly on the edge and it was partially through his essay that we understood and experienced the gravity of the situation as Karthi’s protagonist was somewhat straight-faced. Sadly, Tabu lets us down in that department here. The rest of the cast that includes Deepak Dobriyal and Vineet Kumar do their bits but are never extraordinary.

Bholaa was a letdown for me for the obvious reason that it was a much inferior film in comparison to the original. In addition, it was almost a beat-for-beat copy of the original that added no incentives for the ones who had seen the original to see it again.

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The few changes that it makes to the original weren’t also in its best interest and made the film unnecessarily long. The next part of the film looks set to take the story in a totally different direction from what Lokesh Kanagaraj is planning for Kaithi and Vikram and it will be the only interesting thing to take away from this film.  

Rating: 2.5/5 (2.5 out of 5 Stars)  

The views expressed in this article are that of the reviewer and do not reflect EastMojo’s position.

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